Random Rant: Fake Travel Blogs

“I’ve seen all the disciples and all the wannabes. No-one wants to be themselves these days.”

suriname paramaribo backpacking

Backpacking in Suriname, 2011.

“In a land of fakes and small time petty thieves, must be the wrong place”

nagorno karabakh backpacking 2013

Backpacking in Nagorno Karabakh in 2013.

“What position should I wear? Cop an attitude? (You faker)”

I don’t do many of these random rants and for the most part I try to keep Don’t Stop Living as a happy go lucky lifestyle of travel blog (which it usually is). Everybody’s welcome and I welcome everybody. But somethings just annoy me a little bit hence these random rants will appear at various intervals so you get the best of both worlds from me. It’s time to get one of them off my chest, and yes I might get slated for this, but this is my opinion remember and this is my travel blog! OK so – fake travellers and fake travel blogs! They just annoy me – please stop being so fake people!! Either travel and write about travel, but don’t write about travel if you don’t travel. I’ve no respect for those who have a fake travel blog.

Travelling. That's me in the photo. Just checking it's all real for you...

Travelling. That’s me in the photo. Just checking it’s all real for you…

I’m no expert here but I do have strong opinions and I do believe (with some justification) that I have travelled properly and extensively for prolonged periods over the last 11 years since leaving my hometown. In that time I have visited all seven continents, and over seventy countries so I feel I have at least a good knowledge of travel and have been well off the beaten track to tell real travel stories. That’s all well and good until I see some absolutely ridiculous blog posts and Facebook photos, they are becoming all too tiresome, repetitive and fake recently. Here’s the sort of fake ness I’m talking about, grilling my chicken on it as we speak!:

1.  Travel blogger posts a “generic photo” of a random world location on any blog post (no people in it, nothing even personal to that blog at all – generic like hell and obvious because it’s a really GOOD photo – means nothing to me – it’s a “fake”).

jonny blair peak of mount kinabalu

None of this generic shit my friends – we summit Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, Borneo.

2. Travel Blogger uploads a “Generic photo” of a place that the person who blogged about it never even went to or hasn’t even been to. They either uploaded a fake photo or found one online and uploaded it. It’s as fake as a Northern Irish resident’s suntan in the winter.

3. Travel Blogger uploads a “Generic shit photo” on Facebook fan page for their site. These are instantly recogniseable as they will be a really good photo, again blogger is absent, 8,342 people like it, with 432 shares and 101 comments such as “looks amzing, cant wait to go” but in reality it’s a fake travel photo.

antarctica selfie

It’s a “selfie” in Antarctica, the type of photo you’ll never see on a fake travel blog!

4. Travel Blogger uploads and writes a “Generic Top 5 blog post” on a city everyone on the world has been to (e.g. New York, London, Berlin, Sydney). Instantly obvious by the failure to include the word “I” or “we” in the post, with nothing even personal like a photo of them eating a donut! It’s a “generic shit five” and yes they’ve inlcuded your obvious stuff like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

5. Travel blogger uploads a “Generic shit Facebook update” about a place the writer/blogger has never been to, accompanied by an even more “generic shit quote” like “Wow – this sunset was in the Maldives! Anyone ever been? Anyone want to go?” (that’s how a fake travel blog does it! A real travel blog posts a photo of the blogger sitting in the Maldives having a cocktail, ironically the real photo might be accompanied by the same “anyone been?” question, but at least it’s real 😉

minsk to bobruisk train belarus

Fake or real travel? A train ticket from Minsk to Bobruisk and a 18 pence beer in BELARUS. Backpacking this beast in 2007…

6. Travel Blogger uploads a “Generic shit picture” with even more ridiculous travel quote on it (e.g. “I regret travelling the world said nobody ever”). I’m bored, I’ve fallen asleep, in another hostel on another real travel journey.

7. The travel blogger doesn’t even travel – they sit at home in a flat they own/rent and write about previous trips. I kid you not sometimes.

“generic, generic, and that’s the way you like it, you like it, you like it”

Travel style has also got a lot to do with the fakness of travel blogs. I have to say I hate going to the “over travelled normal” travel places and I particularly hate travel blogs that only talk about the famous places where EVERYONE goes.

“everybody wants to sell what’s already been sold”

So I don’t do that – you’re just one of hundreds getting your photo taken beside Angkor Wat aren’t you? Did you bother to visit the Cambodian Landmine Museum or the unknown town of Preas Dak? You’ll probably be surprised if I told you I preferred having a cup of coffee in Preas Dak chatting to the locals watching Cambodian football on the TV than I did by seeing Angkor Wat!! But the truth is, as good as these big sites are, nobody cares, as everybody has already been there!

preas dak backpacking jonny blair

Backpacking in Preas Dak, Cambodia. Is it OK for me to say that having coffee with the locals was better than Angkor Wat with 1000 tourists? 😉

Getting drunk in Thailand for a month is NOT real travel and your blog, as good as it might be is in danger of becoming a fake travel blog. Write about the time you backpacked through China without soap. Write about the time you got drunk in Thailand then booked a flight to Pyongyang. Have you never been to a town where you are the only traveller? If the answer is yes, then all is well again…take some photos, put them on your real travel blog and remember how fucking good life is when it’s not fake.

“Wannabes shouldn’t present fucking awards to gonnabes.”

Of course if the fake travel blog is from a real travel blogger who also has a decent real travel blog, then that’s OK 😉

Rant over – pretty sure those that write fake travel blogs won’t stop by to read or comment, but I needed to get this one out there. For me it’s back to writing about backpacking in Iran, Iraq and Armenia next and planning my upcoming trips to East Timor, Brazil and Guyana.

Final tip – If you want to really travel the world – get a visa for a country you have never heard of. That’s the way to do it! I shared some of my inspiration on this cool travel Podcast last week which you can download: Jonny Blair on Love Affair Travel.

If you indulge in “fake travel bloggery” please do yourself a favour, backpack round Taiwan or Vanuata taking selfies and post them. You’ll earn a wee bit of respect back.

Safe travels,

Real travels,

Jonny

“I can’t seem to stop my imagination”

Quotes provided by R.E.M., Bon Jovi, Liam Gallagher, Louise Nurding, Daniel Darch, Tim Wheeler and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free) 😉 Jonny

43 thoughts on “Random Rant: Fake Travel Blogs

  • Wow! Strong post Jonny, I agree with you on most of the points you touched on – I don’t agree at all with just posting generic photos that you haven’t taken, or just posting things for likes & shares, if you have a blog or site, you should at least write & post material that is 100% your own – After all I see the whole point of running a blog is to share your own experiences, not someone elses – thats what news websites are for!

    I totally respect and admire your desire to visit unknown places that are off the beaten track – The world is a large place with so much to discover. I’m not sure I agree with your stance on not going to places because everyone else has already done it though – I have been to a load of these places including New York (Empire state & statue of Liberty included :p), Rome, Pisa etc, but I genuinely wanted to go! Not because they were popular, but because they had some amazing sights that I’ve always dreamed of seeing – I love history, so seeing the Colosseum and the Vatican was amazing. I also love iconic buildings that stand out, so going to the top of the Empire State was awesome. I personally don’t see a problem with that.

    I run my own blog to share my stories and travel photography, and also so I have a personal visual “history” that I can look back on, to remind me of the fun I’ve had over the years. I travel to see both the places I’ve grown up learning about, and also places I know little about out of intrigue. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not and I’m not even sure how many visits my blog’s had! I do it my way and I love reading other peoples stories and looking at their amazing photography no matter if it’s a generic destination or somewhere far flung and mysterious.

  • Hi Paul, thanks for your comment and opinion. I’ve been on your site before – will take another look today! I probably haven’t quite worded it all correctly. I’ve been to Leaning Tower of Pisa, Empire State, Eiffel Tower, Machu Picchu too etc. and loved them. My point is more about the fact that people who run certain travel blogs deliberately only go to the popular places because thats what people want to read. People love stories about New York and Thailand. My stuff on Iraq and Antarctica passes by un-noticed because people aren’t interested. I’m just trying to put the point across that I properly travel and often get annoyed by those that either don’t really travel or only travel with the idea of getting more readers, writing more average stuff about an over visited location etc.

    Anyway that’s my rant, I’m off to write some real life travel stories now with my own photos! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Your articles on Antarctica definitely do not unnoticed! Come on, getting naked in the Antarctic sea, having a beer on the coldest continent, visiting port lockroy – All amazing reads and inspiring, real examples of travel! Keep doing what you love doing!

  • Ha ha thanks Paul – didn’t actually realise they had even been read!! I wrote about 40 articles on ANtarctica on my own site and about 10 on other sites, yet a single article on Hong Kong got more viewers, comments and emails than them all put together. Was a bit baffled to be honest!! Safe travels. Jonny

  • I’m with you on some points but I guess I’m a No 7 fake travel blogger,  writing about a trip that’s over from my apartment, I kid you not! So here’s my take on it.

    Firstly, not every travel blogger travels or wants to travel full time. I’m one of those bloggers. When I go away for a month I might visit 5 or 6 places and have ideas for 30 blog posts. Which I won’t have time to write when I’m away. Have fun on the trip, blog about it after.  Plus I’m pretty sure none of my followers want to wake up to 30 posts from me on any given morning.  Publishing one or two a week, it takes at least three months to get them out. That’s just the way it is.

    There are many different readers of travel blogs. Many people still want to read about Angkor Wat because that’s what’s they’ll do when they visit Cambodia. Rightly or wrongly, they’ve no interest in the unknown town of Preas Dak. They’re there for the main tourist sights and that’s what they want to read about. It’d be a boring world if all bloggers wrote about the same things.

    As for pictures without the blogger? I reckon noone wants to see my face in every post so I stick to mostly scenery pics. When I read other travel blogs I’m not a massive fan of seeing the blogger in every pic. Locals yes but the blogger not so much. Sure, it proves you were there but I can ascertain that from the article anyway.

    I’m with you on the stock photos and writing posts about places not visited. Totally pointless and I switch off instantly. But I don’t come across it all that much. A bigger issue which I’m surprised you didn’t address is sponsored posts and press trips that are not clearly marked. Way, way worse than some of the fake blogger points you listed.

    Try to realise, not everyone aspires to go backpacking through China without soap or getting drunk in Thailand and booking a flight to Pyongyang. Being a full time traveller doesn’t make a blogger any more of a real traveler, its just different.

    Anyway that’s my perspective, I’m off now to publish an article on sunrise at Angkor Wat from,  quelle horreur, my apartment. I’m pretty sure it is relevant despite being from my last trip. The sun still rises in the morning right…?! 😉

  • I’m with you on some points but I guess I’m a No 7 fake travel blogger, writing about a trip that’s over from my apartment, I kid you not! So here’s my take on it.

    Firstly, not every travel blogger travels or wants to travel full time. I’m one of those bloggers. When I go away for a month I might visit 5 or 6 places and have ideas for 30 blog posts. Which I won’t have time to write when I’m away. Have fun on the trip, blog about it after. Plus I’m pretty sure none of my followers want to wake up to 30 posts from me on any given morning. Publishing one or two a week, it takes at least three months to get them out. That’s just the way it is.

    There are many different readers of travel blogs. Many people still want to read about Angkor Wat because that’s what’s they’ll do when they visit Cambodia. Rightly or wrongly, they’ve no interest in the unknown town of Preas Dak. They’re there for the main tourist sights and that’s what they want to read about. It’d be a boring world if all travel bloggers wrote about the same things.

    As for pictures without the blogger? I reckon noone wants to see my face in every post so I stick to mostly scenery pics. When I read other travel blogs I’m not a massive fan of seeing the blogger in every pic. Locals yes but the blogger not so much. Sure, it proves you were there but I can ascertain that from the article anyway.

    I’m with you on the stock photos and writing posts about places not visited. Totally pointless and I switch off instantly. But I don’t come across it all that much. A bigger issue which I’m surprised you didn’t address is sponsored posts and press trips that are not clearly marked. Way, way worse than some of the fake blogger points you listed.

    Try to realise, not everyone aspires to backpacking through China without soap or getting drunk in Thailand and booking a flight to Pyongyang. Being a full time traveller doesn’t make a blogger any more of a real traveler, its just different.

    Anyway that’s my perspective, I’m off now to publish an article on sunrise at Angkor Wat from, quelle horreur, my apartment. I’m pretty sure it is relevant despite being from my last trip. The sun still rises in the morning, right…?! 😉

  • Hi Elaine, Thanks for your long comment – whether we agree or not, it’s appreciated that you take your time to give your opinion and input. I had a look at your site and I wouldn’t call it fake, nor do you seem like a fake travel blogger. I’m guessing that you may live in Cambodia, but you’re not from there, which means you’re already travelling. I was referring to people who still live in their home towns/countries and do about 4-5 weeks travel a year to obvious places and claim they travel full time. I don’t have much time or respect for these types of fake travel bloggers.

    The fact about this whole “real travel debate” as well is something that iritates a bit to be honest. I still stand by the fact that a person who travels to Ethiopia, Iraq and Belarus is more of a real and raw traveller than a person who travels to Thailand, Australia and Germany. The reason is – the first three countries there are not as many travellers and the last three well they are EASY to travel to – anyone can do it, it’s a more authentic experience meeting locals. You stay in hostels, hotels and guesthouses rarely meeting another traveller, you meet and mix with more locals. I wrote about Angkor Wat too once, but only because I knew my readers might be interested in my opinion on whether to book a 1, 3 or 7 day ticket.

    I still prefer photos of the blogger, and yes of locals too, these “generic scenery photos” do nothing for me. I don’t click on blogs with generic photos. If it’s a photo of the blogger holding a snake or something I’ll click it. If it’s just the snake, no chance. I want real people doing real travel!

    Sponsored posts and press trips are OK as long as they are on REAL travel blogs, once they start appearing on these fake ones, then I agree they are just people trying to make money from pretending to travel.

    I’m heading to China and East Timor next and pretty hyped up for both to be honest!! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hello Jonny!
    You make some really good points here, like the fake generic images or writing about places they’ve never been to. That’s always very easy to spot (they usually carry some links to commercial sites too) and anyone who writes a proper travel blog should be able to recognise the fake ones without any problem.
    I don’t agree, however, that only real travel bloggers write their blogs on the go. When we travel (usually 2-3 months trips) we much prefer living the experience than sitting at our CS’s place and writing about it. We do write about it after we come back and it helps us get through the boring periods of our lives when we can’t travel.
    That will have to change soon, though, as we are setting off for a 10-11 month trip this summer so we will have to force ourselves to write as we go if we don’t want our blog to be dead for that long!

  • Hi Jonny – I came across this post and had to leave a comment. Whilst I completely agree with you about travel bloggers writing about places they haven’t been as wrong and misleading, I have to disagree with you on most of this post.

    Believe it or not, most people in the world aren’t full-time travellers and don’t have any desire to be. Therefore, they might prefer reading a blog by someone who is also not a full-time traveller but manages to fit in a number of trips throughout the year. They are inspiring for them because they can relate.

    There’s a reason popular attractions like the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower are popular – they tend to have a certain historical significance or something similar. Sure, there are other ways to learn about a culture, but sites like these are hugely important, too, and that should not be overlooked.

    I have to completely disagree with you when you say that people who travel to so-called ‘popular’ places are not ‘real’ travellers. If you’re exploring and moving through somewhere you’re travelling, regardless of where it is. Not everyone wants to trek through the desert with a backpack, just like not everyone wants to queue up for hours to climb the Eiffel Tower. The world would be pretty boring if everyone wanted to do the same thing. I hate this attitude that is so apparent amongst the travel blogging community that some travellers are better than others. This is simply not true. One person cannot be better or more ‘real’ than another because of the way they do things. It’s just different.

    Whilst you might be proud of all the weird and wacky places you’ve visited, for others it might be their worst nightmare. All they might want to do in terms of travel is see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and who is anyone else to say that’s wrong?

    Anyway, this has got a bit long now, but just wanted to add my two cents 🙂 Hope you are having a nice time in China/East Timor 🙂

  • Hi Hitch Hikers Handbook, Thanks for your comment. The generic images thing is a bug bear of mine – mostly on Facebook to be honest and not so much on other travel blogs in fact – it annoys me how many there are on Facebook of fake images that the person didn’t take. They dont normally carry links to commercial sites though – the ones I’m talking about are the bloggers posting a photo from say Paris and with a quote saying “Paris – who wants to go?” Well of course the answer everyone will say is “yes” but it’s such a fake thing to do. If it’s me, I’ll post a photo of me in Paris, or a blog post I wrote on Paris and then say “Paris – who wants to go?” – see what I mean?? You can spot these blogs a mile off by the way.

    I didn’t say that only real travel bloggers write their blogs on the go. I also don’t always write on the go, as people will know, I’ve been blogging for 7 years now and often had a base for my travels, but I was still constantly writing about places I’d really been to. I’m talking about people who sit in a flat and write travel blogs when they haven’t travelled ANYWHERE in a year – how can we trust them? How can it be a real photo they took on holiday? I don’t believe them and neither should anyone.

    Other than that – good luck with your trip!! Maybe see you somewhere along the way, it’s a big world!

    Safe travels,

    Jonny

  • Hi Lizzie,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ll reply chronologically to each paragraph (hope that’s the easiest way to do it).

    I think a few people yourself included don’t quite get what I mean by a “fake travel blog”. Basically those who travel 2-3 months a year are not “fake travel blogs” to me, UNLESS they post generic photos on Facebook and on their site of places they don’t go to. It’s totally misleading to viewers and readers and makes me cringe. I don’t do that on Don’t Stop Living – check my Facebook page – it’s mostly photos with me in them, almost feel I have to do it to prove I was there and am a trustable resource. Quite frankly an article that starts like “when in paris it is recommended that you visit the eiffel tower (generic amazing photo) and the best way to do this is …” – even if the person travels full time, that’s fake. The person is not in the photo, it’s generic, like theyre only doing it to get readers and likes. It makes me cringe.

    As for the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower – I’ve been to both places but yet the time I had breakfast in the French countryside or toured Staten Island with some fellow backpackers were both better memories of those places than the obvious ones for me – and for one main reason – we didn’t encounter HOARDES of fellow tourists taking photos. Each to their own, but a travel blog that only visits these places is kind of missing the point of travel, UNLESS they also visit the other places. Incidentally one of my early posts on here was all about the Eiffel Tower and how I loved it. It was great. But I needed to have my off the wall stuff as well to even things out!!

    With this paragraph I’m not sure where you got my quote from about not being “real” travellers. Everyone that travels somewhere is a REAL traveller, but some experiences are without doubt more representative of travel than others, surely you don’t disagree?? For example if one person spends a month in the Chinese wilderness in a town with NO other foreigners and the other spends a month partying in Thailand without hardly meeting a Thai person, which do you REALLY believe had a more authentic local travel experience? Honestly??? Same goes for comparing a week in New York doing the normal sights compared with a week in say, Harar in Ethiopia. I’d take the week in Harar with less tourists. This isn’t about one person being better or more real. Everyone is real and everyone does the best for themselves – that’s human nature. But on some of these fake travel blogs they will claim they’ve been to places they havent and write about a city they have NEVER been to. This is simply fake, misleading and cringeworthy. I hate it and to me, a person posting a fake travel story is LESS authentic than travel that you or I might do. I can’t see how you can disagree with this? Fair enough if you do – that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it, as I am to mine.

    I’ve been to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and wrote passionately about it! I loved it! On the same trip in northern Italy I also headed up to the mountains of San Marino and for me, that felt more raw as there were less travellers…

    Indeed, I hope yu’ve kind of understood my point here – it’s all about people writing about places they never went to, posting generic images and thinking the entire travel lifestyle revolves around Paris, New York and London. East Timor is up next for and then I’m off to Brazil via England. Good luck with your next adventures and safe travels!

    Jonny

  • Interesting perspective, I normally only use stock generic photos on my social media when I’m announcing a future trip (after all, there’s no way to have my own photos of a place I haven’t been to). And yes, I agree with the rest of your points, I often try to include at least one photo of me in every article in order to make it more personal.
    Raphael Alexander Zoren recently posted…5 reasons why you’ll fall in love with Guanajuato, MexicoMy Profile

  • Hey Jonny,

    Thanks for your response. I completely agree with you about the fake travel blogs and know exactly the kind you mean. I only write about places I have been and would never dream of writing about anywhere I’d never stepped foot in.

    I think the issue I had with the post was that you seemed to have some kind of superiority over travellers who visited ‘popular’ places. I agree that travellers get a better sense of a place and culture if they visit ‘off-the-beaten track’ (gah I hate that phrase!) places as well as famous sites and attractions, but just because you’d choose Harare over New York, doesn’t mean everyone else would, or should for that matter. To each their own 🙂

    With regards to the Thailand vs. Chinese wilderness comment, I agree that the Chinese wilderness would be a more authentic experience. But that all depends on what the aim of travel is. I myself hate the thought of spending two weeks getting drunk in Thailand, but if that’s what someone wants to do, then they are more likely to want to go Thailand. Everyone wants different things out of travel and travel means different things to different people.

    Hope this is slightly clearer than my last post 🙂
    Lizzie recently posted…Getting Dressed Up and Drinking Beer in a Traditional Basotho VillageMy Profile

  • Rant allowed, I get you on some points for sure. Everyone and every blog is different, and everyone runs their blogs differently too. I immediately knew of 1 specific blog when you mentioned anyone been/anyone want to go? It made me laugh, cause i see this in my feed all the time.

    We aka GettingStamped try and right the fun/stupid real things that happen on our travels, as well as useful tips/guides to places.

    Hope your feeling better after your rant. Hope to meet up some day on the road. Will be thinking of you on St Pats, will have the darkest beer I can find in Vietnam for you!
    Hannah@GettingStamped recently posted…What does it cost to travel to Cambodia for 15 days?My Profile

  • I have to disagree with most of what you say and agree with Lizzie, so I won’t bother repeating what she said.

    Going against my better judgement, I am going to leave a comment I have found in the past that when bloggers post rants or strongly opinionated pieces they do so purely for the page views and comments. Here is my 2 cents worth.

    “I’m no expert here but I do have strong opinions and I do believe (with some justification) that I have travelled properly ”
    How does one travel “properly”? Either you travel or you don’t.

    “I feel I have at least a good knowledge of travel and have been well off the beaten track to tell real travel stories.”
    So you are saying that you have to travel off the beaten path to tell “REAL” travel stories? Utter rubbish. I want to read well written posts about a place I am interested in.

    Points 1,2,3,5, and 6 really boil down to “shit generic pictures”. While that is your opinion and this is your blog, so that is fine. While I personally despise selfies, pictures of feet, and other vacation type snapshots whether they are off the beaten path or not. I want to see photos, good photos not snapshots. I don’t mind seeing a picture or 2 of the author and/or their family, I certainly don’t want to see a post full of selfies, I find it very narcissistic.

    “7. The travel blogger doesn’t even travel – they sit at home in a flat they own/rent and write about previous trips.”
    Clearly if they had “previous trips” they have traveled. I don’t care when a entertaining story happened, last night or last year, it does not matter.

    The vast majority of people that read travel blogs are not travel bloggers, I think that any blogger should remember their audience. Why some guy in Poughkeepsie would rather see a picture of me in a backpack in front of some random building instead of an awesome photo of the Eiffel Tower is beyond me.

    I want a well crafted article with great photos.

    Each to his own, my advice if you don’t like a blog or a FB account don’t read it.
    Rob recently posted…Calgary at Night with the X-E2My Profile

  • Hi Rob – thanks for your comment. It will be no surprise to you that I disagree with a lot of your points here and while I didn’t expect a debate on this, I’ll answer your comments in a bit of detail as I have strong opinions on this type of thing. I’m about to head on a bus (shock, real travel) so may not be back online to approve or see your comments that soon.

    Firstly – do so “for page views and comments”??? If you have followed by travel blog for the last 7 years (which I’m guessing you havent), then you will know my point is EXACTLY the OPPOSITE of this. In other words I do NOTHING for page views at all – I write about places I really go and things I really see and opinions I really have. These FAKE travel blogs are the ones that do it for page views. They havent been to the Eiffel Tower but they know people will read that so they post about it and get a load of page views. A look through my recent posts will show me backpacking in Chongqing, Iraq and Shahr-e Kord. Basically not many other travellers in those places and nobody really interested therefore I get almost zero page views on these articles. I don’t crave or want extra page views. A fake travel blog craves extra page views. I real one, doe not. I fear you have missed the point here. With regards to getting comments, I’m actually a bit angry that more people have commented on this post this week than on my post about Chongqing or North Korea. I’d rather people commented on those posts instead. So I completely disagree with you.

    “How does one travel properly? You either travel or you dont”. OK – I totally disagree with this which is the whole point!!! You travel properly by REALLY going to that place and REALLY being there and writing about your REAL experience, I assume you understand that?? You don’t travel properly by posting about a place you never went to and pretending to go to a place. Please tell me you get that?

    In terms of this “off the beaten track” rubbish then again if you read my blog you will know I personally write about all sorts of places, from New York to Berlin as well as writing about Erbil and Kaesong, BUT it is much better to write about places where you are the ONLY traveller there. This much has to be true. If you only write about New York – then you’re doing it for page views and you’re almost turning your travel blog into a fake blog – let’s write about New york because everyone wants to read that. I don’t buy this at all and I disagree.

    ON travel blogs, I don’t want to see GOOD photos at all – if I wanted GOOD photos, I’d go to a photography site or a professional photographer’s website. In fact if I see GOOD photos, I get suspicious that the person hasn’t really been there and they are posting a generic. It makes me cringe. This isn’t about photography, it’s about real travel. I want a travel photo with the author in it. I’ll give them more respect, more credit and I might even read their blog. End of.

    As for point 7 – if they’re sitting at home they aren’t REALLY TRAVELLING which is exactly the point. It would be like me writing a football website without even knowing anything about football. Crazy how you justify this. I write about previous trips which is fine of course, but a travel blog claiming to travel full time and then posting generics from the comfort of a flat – it’s not real to me, nor should we give them the respect they clearly want for being so smart by not travelling yet having an awesome travel blog that has fooled us all into thingking they really travel.

    YES – I’d rather see a photo of you with a backpack in front of a random building instead of a generic crap photo of the Eiffel Tower because it’s REAL. It proves to me you really went there. The generic Eiffel Tower photo seems like you’re only doing it for page views, didn’t really go there etc. Plus I’ve seen 1000 Eiffel Tower photos so another one does nothing for me – the travelled in front of some building means more.

    The last point, totally agree!! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Raphael thanks for your comment – I just don’t like people posting fake travel photos. It annoys me! Rant over. I prefer travel blogs where I know for sure the reader has been there. Safe travels, Jonny

  • So what this post ultimately *really* comes down to is if a person doesn’t choose to travel following your exact travel style, then they’re a fake traveller and therefore have a fake blog?

  • Really interesting post and perspective. I don’t agree with all your points, but very much admire you for putting yourself out there. Unfortunately for me I’m one of those people who travels, then goes home to write about it. Wish it were otherwise, but that’s my reality. I am always open and upfront with my readers about that though – I don’t pretend to be traveling all the time, and indeed write about how I plan my trips on my blog. Just as there are different types of travellers, there are different types of bloggers. Just as well for all of us there are also different readers. I suspect
    my readers probably wouldn’t want to read about backpacking in Mongolia, just the same as other bloggers’ readers have no interest in my reviews of first class plane travel.

    I personally also dislike posts where it’s obvious the person has no first hand experience, but at the end of the day there’s no ‘blog police’ so let’s just live and let live.
    Jo Karnaghan recently posted…A taste of ChampagneMy Profile

  • There are parts of this I agree and disagree with. I’ve come across some blogs where people CLEARLY haven’t been to the destination they’re writing about – there are no personal anecdotes, and parts seem eerily similar to Lonely Planet or Wikitravel pages, just a few words changed here and there. I don’t get how you can write about somewhere you haven’t been to. Ditto the stock photos – I use them every now and again, but only if it’s a) to announce where I’m going next (naturally I won’t have a photo) or b) I forgot to take a photo of whatever it is that I’m writing about – I wrote a post that included the Colombian drink aguardiente recently. I thought I had a photo, but evidently I was a bit too, erm, merry to take one while guzzling it down. Yet I linked to it and didn’t pretend it was my photo. I just wanted my readers to have a visual.

    As for the whole writing about past experiences thing – I think that’s fine. It can sometimes take me a while to process and subsequently articulate my thoughts or feelings about a place, and usually I post on a one-or-two month delay. I don’t blog in ‘real time’ so to speak. Plus, I’m writing about past experiences every now and again, and also from a place I’m renting – but it’s in Taiwan, so there you go.

    As for getting off the beaten path, I have to say, I despise the use of the word ‘real’. I went off the beaten path in Colombia, heading to the remote Choco province on the Pacific Coast. I’m glad I went, and by your definition it would probably be a ‘real’ experience but was it my favourite place in Colombia? Not by a mile – I much preferred taking a cable car in Medellin and hitting up a gargantuan mall and partying in a gay super club in Bogota. I adore Madame Tussaud’s and the Natural History Museum in London. When I was living in Korea, I encouraged people to go to the most popular site in Seoul, Gyeongbok Palace, and here in Taipei, always recommend that people go to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. They’re spectacular, and well-known sites are famous and popular for a reason. My point with this is, don’t disparage other people’s travel styles and assume that because they go to popular places, they’re not ‘real’ travellers. I have posts on New York, Paris, Milan and Edinburgh. I also have posts on Moldova, Colombia, Taiwan and southern Turkey. The former four are hugely popular, and they’re popular for a reason – and I wrote about them because I wanted to share my experiences with my readers.

    Anyway, bravo for writing this post, and like I said, I agree with the majority – I especially despise people pretending they’ve been to places/not disclosing that they haven’t been to where they’re writing about (there’s a slight difference). Just keep in mind that not everyone travels like you do, and that’s OK. As long as people are getting out and seeing the world, then that’s what’s important.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted…Friends Come And GoMy Profile

  • Hi Tom, thanks for the comment and checking out my blog – kind of a bit upset that this post is attracting a lot of comments and my normal travel stuff goes un-noticed but I always try to reply so here goes. I loved Aguardiente too – glad you don’t use generic photos – it’s not just the blog though – this post was actually triggered when I saw a load of $h1t generic photos on Facebooks from travel blog sites who had NEVER been to that place.

    I write about the past as well – and A LOT. Even this week I wrote about Australia, Malaysia and a few weeks back Uruguay. All old trips – I’ve a lot to catch up on hence why most of my stuff is backdated too. I was kind of referring to people who sit in a house and use the fact that they once went to Thailand as a way to start an entire travel blog as if they have travelled the world and are an expert. I’m not saying I’m an expert – I’m just saying those blogs are fake. They are. I’m afraid. My opinion of course.

    I do all the touristy sights as well which most people will know – I’ve been to Chang Kei Shek Memorial Hall (and even Taipei 101) though my favourite parts of Taiwan were the east coast, Shinying and Chiayi. I’ve also done Machu Picchu, Empire State Building etc. I’ve REALLY been to those places, I’m talking about people who write about them but haven’t been. There’s no difference for me between touring Stonehenge than touring Blandford Forum for example EXCEPT there are MORE tourists at Stonehenge, so it automatically feels less authentic to me – it feels like I’m part of a “tourist clan” that only came here to see Stonehenge. When I see a Church in Blandford Forum, I have the place to myself. Just one example there – could name many more. I prefer places with LESS tourists, it’s just the way I am.

    I encourage my readers, my friends and fellow travellers to head to places where there are NO other travellers as I feel they will get the best travel experience that way. Come on – let’s face it – if you head to Paris, everything is EASY to organise. People in tourist spots can speak English, tourist spots are advertised and noticeable etc. It’s not hard to travel. However when you backpack in Iraq (one of my latest trips) for example, you have to do things for yourself a lot more – you challenge your travel limits, you need to organise things for yourself – it feels more authentic surely?? Fair enough if you believe that France and Iraq are the same, but for me, they’re not. And there will always be that difference between “touristy places” and “untouristy places”. Taiwan has it too, a LOT.

    Your last paragraph is very well put and well said. I value your input and enjoy your blog. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Catherine – thanks for your comment. Well – did you read the post or did you just make a judgement based on nothing?? The post is about FAKE travel blogs, NOT travel style or following the way I travel. I’m talking about blogs that post GENERIC shit pictures from places the blogger has never been, acting like they know it and like they are a travel expert. They’re fakes and I’ve no time for them. If you go onto Facebook and “like” a load of travel blogs, you will find the fake ones posting photos they didnt take, regularly, it makes me cringe! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Thanks for the comment Hannah – always welcome from you guys 😉 Hope Adam and I can met up for a beer someday. Keep it cold, St. Patrick’s is COMING!! Big weekend of Guinness ahead 😉 Jonny

  • Thanks for the comment Jo – it’s an interesting one – never expected a rant about something that annoys me to attract so many comments!More than my normal travel articles, safe travels to you. Jonny

  • Hi Lizzie,

    I also hate the phrase “off the beaten track” – actually it annoys me. These days I tend to use “non touristy” instead – seems to fit better.

    Travel is different things to different people AS LONG AS THEY ARE REALLY TRAVELLING. Those in a comfy settee at home drinking coffee, are not. Rant over and on with my travel stories next!

    Safe travels. Jonny

  • I must have been travelling when this post came out but happy that I have just found it :)) I do think that you make quite a few valid points. For some reason or other people do like generic lists of ‘the best 5 things to see and do”. I think that it important for us, as travellers, to mix it up. Yes we really saw Angkor Wat and yes we took a boat ride from hell to Battambang. I fully intend to see iconic things as they are iconic for a reason but more importantly I want to meet local people and try to get my head around their lifestyles. I am new to this blogging game, and I think it may well be a game where many people play it safe. I possibly have been to date also. You have not been and all credit to you for saying exactly what you felt like. Will look forward to reading more.
    Paula @gordyandpaula recently posted…Comment on “Who’s the boss?” at The Gypsy Nester by Paula McInerneyMy Profile

  • Thanks for your very reasoned comment Paula – I appreciate it. Some people take these things way too seriously, makes me laugh. It’s a fun hearted post slagging off “generics”! Safe travels. Jonny

  • “But the truth is, as good as these big sites are, nobody cares, as everybody has already been there!”

    “People love stories about New York and Thailand. My stuff on Iraq and Antarctica passes by un-noticed because people aren’t interested.”

    So which one is it, Jonny?

  • Hi Kate thanks for your comment – the bad news for real travel bloggers is it’s both of those statements. I personaly despise posts on Angkor Wat, Thailand etc. – just doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Yet sadly for some people love these stories and they want to read them. Hence why I’m out travelling the world for real and aiming to encourage others to do the same thing and not just follow the glammed up sites that don’t need or deserve any more publicity!!

    This week I have been the only tourist at El Salvador’s only UNESCO world heritage site and myself and my girlfriend were the only 2 to tour Spanish Lookout in Belize. These are the things I choose to write about and it’s my job to convince and prove to people that they should be interested in places like Suriname, Ethiopia, East Timor, El Salvador and Iraq.

    Safe travels.

    Jonny

  • Jonny,
    Here’s the real question: Which travel blogs out there right now are fakes? I’m not talking about the random travel blog that’s easy to spot. I’m talking about a real (or supposedly real) blog with the corresponding Twitter and FB accounts who is just making stuff up. Give us names!
    -J.R.

  • Hi JR – I get slated everytime I mention all these blogs and I’ve had Google remove a few of them, but the most fake one recently is Makes Lifestyle, I wont link to them but the article is here: http://dontstopliving.net/fake-website-makes-lifestyle-tries-copy-dont-stop-living/ Sadly this type of thing is happening a lot and it’s us real travellers who suffer. The other fakes I talk of are those who post a photo of say Iran on their Facebook page yet they have NEVER ever been to Iran. Fake and I see through them and never visit their sites again! Safe travels. Jonny

  • Interesting article Jonny. It made me think of the time when I travelled and there were no blogs. Not sure where I fit in the blog spectrum. I first travelled in the 1980s to SE Asia and China where there were no blogs or internet. I remember people getting their Lonely Planet China’s stolen. Travelled through Pakistan and even spent a month on Malta. Later I hitchhiked through Europe in the 90s through then Yugoslavia and had a great time. Egypt was brilliant and India was inspirational and always an adventure. Kha som road did not have a starbucks! After leaving my job after 15 years we decided to travel and I started a personal blog. We spent a year travelling in the USA, Canada, NZ, Oz and revisiting old haunts in SE Asia. Now back in the UK with plans to travel sometime in the future.

    I am trying with my wife to make a go at the whole travel blog lifestyle but it is not as easy as many make it out to be. I also just read a blog from a website that apparently gets 1.5 million hits a month and they wrote about NZ where I am from and to my surprise it was fake, a good fake but nevertheless a fake. I am lucky if we get 200 hits a month but we are learning. I enjoyed reading your take on the whole fake travel bloggers.

  • Hi John, interesting story there, thanks for sharing. That website with 1.5 million views that is fake is crazy. This is why when I started my blog in 2007 and realised people that are fakes are making money, I had to get in on the act. There are very few real travel bloggers left out there, but I’m glad you found mine, and have started your own. I look forward to hearing your stories – be yourself. You can’t be no-one else. Safe travels. Jonny

  • I stumbled across this entry and website because I was so frustrated by a very poor quality blog post elsewhere (think ‘tramping electronically’) about Cancun. It was so clearly evident that the blogger had not been there, with the classic stock photos, lack of ‘I’s, and they couldn’t even answer a commenter’s simple question ” do they speak much English there?” – unbelievable. Finally, they recommended upscale all-inclusive hotels, whilst the stated intention of the site was to show how one can live on sub-$25 a day. How some-one can so shamelessly sell themselves out like this and live with that, I don’t know.

    I would note for just a bit of balance, that I had previously found some interesting/useful content on that site and there clearly are some posts which are definitely personal and very interesting. It’s just a shame to see the other side of the commercial enterprise.

  • Hi Alistair, thanks for the comment. I know what you mean – the biggest problem for travel bloggers is that we are doing most of our work for free, so we need to get these sponsors and advertisers on board. I’ve been on the fence a few times about it, but money talks. I try to keep my travels as real as I can. Safe travels. Jonny

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